Zigmunds Lapsa isn’t easily fazed. He grew up in Riga, the capital of Latvia, which he describes as a “country with 2.3 million people and 5.4 graphic designers at that time.” After two years in an unstimulating local design program, he decided that what he needed was more hands-on experience, a bit of which he’d gained through working for ad agencies to pay his expenses.
Hence, a leap: to London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, where Lapsa studied design and typography and found himself. He threw himself into real-world work with the British designer Bobby Gunthorpe, who praises Lapsa’s originality and says, “He would be embarrassed for me to say it, but he truly was an inspiration to his classmates.” Humble, hardworking, and handsome, too? “The fact he looks like a young Harrison Ford can’t hurt,” Gunthorpe says. Next, Lapsa returned to Riga to work for an interactive studio called Hungry Lab. The multiple logos and layered patterns he created for its identity mirror the studio’s penchant for surprise and experimentation.
Keen to keep learning and gather more experience outside Latvia, Lapsa applied for an internship at Amsterdam’s Studio Laucke. Founder Dirk Laucke marveled at his gifts, self-determination, and arresting collection of work, which included a poster for the artist Dan Flavin containing letterforms that emerge from a grid of overlapping light tubes. Laucke accepted Lapsa sight unseen, after “one of the very rare moments when a beginning designer sends me work which is so special that I wish I had made it.” His verdict: “He is a brave, kind, and extremely talented young designer.”
Now that he’s back in Riga (with plans to return to Amsterdam), those qualities will serve him well in Latvia’s especially stark economy. So will his maturity: “Now I am a responsible age, and people are expecting serious answers from me.”